tv Democracy Now LINKTV July 9, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT
07/09/15 07/09/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> the offers for human rights say they're deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in yemen were civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. the office now says a total number of siblings reportedly killed and injured since 27th of march is 1528 and 3605 injured.
amy: is the death toll rises in yemen, a groups warn the country is on the verge of famine. we will speak to yemeni activist farea al muslimi and reporter matt aikens about the u.s.-backed, saudi-led attack and the humanitarian crisis. then we will go to capitol hill to speak with congresswoman barbara lee, co-author of a new bill to expand insurance coverage of abortion and dismantle the nearly 40-year-old hyde amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. >> make no mistake, these lawmakers really do want to ban abortions altogether. since they can't, they employ the underhanded tactics to push abortion care out of reach for women who are really just struggling to just make ends meet. and that is just wrong. amy: and bp has agreed to pay a $18.7 billion settlement over the 2010 deepwater horizon explosion. did bp get off cheaply? we will speak to antonia juhasz. all that and more, coming up.
welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. house lawmakers in south carolina have passed a measure to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol. the final vote was 94 to 20. south carolina republican governor nikki haley has vowed to quickly sign the bill into law. that will give the state 24 hours to take down the flag and move it to a museum. the vote came early this morning, almost exactly three weeks to the day after a white suspect who embraced the confederate flag massacred nine african-american worshipers at a church bible study in charleston. among those to speak during a heated debate was republican state representative jenny horne. >> i cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body
to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on friday. and if any of you vote to amend you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond friday. and for the widow of senator pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury. amy: that is republicans all caps on a state representative jenny horne, a descendant of confederate president jefferson davis. a federal judge has dealt a blow to another symbol widely seen as racist. in a victory for native american activists, the judge ordered the cancellation of federal trademark registrations for the washington redskins football team. the decision affirmed an earlier ruling by the trademark trial and appeal board's decision to -- that said it was offensive to
native americans. the decision does not force the team to change its name, but it could make it more difficult to legally guard the name and logo from use by third parties. the team has said it will appeal. the number of syrian refugees fleeing the turmoil in their home country has topped four million. the united nations said more than 24,000 people crossed into turkey from syria last month alone. within syria, an estimated 7.6 million people have been displaced. antonio guterres, u.n. high commissioner for refugees, said -- "this is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation." greece has formally requested a new bailout from european creditors. the plan would see greece commit to tax and pension-related reforms in exchange for a three-year aid package. more specific details are expected today. greek prime minister alexis tsipras addressed the european parliament wednesday. he said greeks are tired of being a laboratory for testing austerity, and want a viable agreement. >> we want a sustainable
program. we want to be in a position to repay the loans we have accepted. when we asked to reduce the debt, we are asking for that because we want to be able to pay this back. we don't want to be forced time and again to accept new loans to pay off the old ones. amy: in london, anti-austerity protesters staged a die-in outside parliament to protest welfare cuts and corporate tax breaks in the new conservative budget. the people's assembly against austerity expressed solidarity with greek voters who rejected austerity in a historic referendum. the protesters released black balloons to symbolize the deadly consequences of welfare cuts. >> what we have done is to release black balloons to symbolize those people who we know have died directly as a consequence of austerity. the last estimates, two years ago, was at 10,000 people in this country have died from the direct effects of austerity. amy: as they pressed greece to accept austerity, members of the european parliament also voted
to endorse a u.s.-european wednesday free-trade deal critics say would enrich corporations at the expense of the environment and public health. denounced by critics as a "corporate bill of rights" the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, or ttip, is being negotiated in secret. one provision would establish a parallel legal system where corporations could sue governments over laws they claim threaten their profits. trading on the new york stock exchange was halted for hours wednesday following what authorities say was a technical problem. a further spate of technical issues grounded united airlines flights for nearly two hours and took down the wall street journal homepage. officials say the problems appear to be unrelated. they came amidst concern over economic turmoil in china, where stocks appear to have rebounded after steep losses. fbi director james comey testified wednesday in favor of government access to encrypted communications.
encryption refers to the scrambling of communications so they cannot be read without a key or password. comey invoked the threat of the self-proclaimed islamic state to justify possible government backdoors into encryption software. senate intelligence committee vice chair dianne feinstein questioned comey about concerns raised by tech companies. >> let me ask you to respond, this is another wuoy -- quote from the same letter, allowing law enforcement access to information, also risks undermining the security of all electronic communications and digitally stored information. would you comment on that? as i understand it, what you would be talking about is some kind of front door key? >> again, my reaction to that common is, maybe. if that is the case, well, i
guess we are stuck. amy: you can go to democracynow.org to see our interview with bruce schneier, one of 14 leading crytographers and computer scientists who wrote a paper opposing government access to encrypted data. he spoke to us yesterday from london. u.s. lawmakers have launched a landmark push to turn back the record tide of anti-choice restrictions. california congressmember barbara lee and pro-choice colleagues introduced the equal access to abortion coverage in health insurance, or each woman act. it would dismantle the nearly 40-year-old hyde amendment which bans federal funding for abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. california congressmember judy chu was among those to support the each woman act at a news conference on wednesday. >> nearly one in seven women of reproductive age is insured through medicaid. half of medicaid enrollees were people of color. three in 10 were -- young women are eligible for medicaid. we know this attack on poor women as an attack on all women.
hyde was this access out of reach for so many. we cannot sit back and watch the constitutional right of women deteriorate any further. we have been playing defense first are -- for too long and it is time to change strategies. amy: we'll speak with each woman act lead sponsor, california democratic congressmember barbara lee, later in the broadcast. baltimore mayor stephanie rawlings-blake has fired the city's police commissioner in the wake of protests over the death of african-american resident freddie gray in police custody. rawlings-blake cited a recent rise in crime in baltimore and said criticism of police commissioner anthony batts had become a distraction. >> a key goal of my administration, our primary focus is making baltimore safer place. i think it is important we understand we cannot continue to debate the leadership of the department and think we're going to see the progress we want to see.
i would say the commissioner understands that. amy: protesters have called for the ouster of police commissioner anthony batts over his handling of the death of freddie gray, whose family said his spine was 80% severed at the neck when he died after being arrested and transported without a seatbelt in a police van. six officers involved have been criminally charged. on wednesday, the baltimore police union issued a review accusing batts of ordering officers to allow looting and property destruction during an uprising over gray's death, which left 19 buildings burned. democratic presidential candidates bernie sanders and martin o'malley, and green party presidential candidate jill stein, have pledged not to accept contributions from fossil fuel companies. the nation magazine and 350.org called on candidates to sign a pledge not to solicit or accept donations from any oil, gas or coal company. hillary clinton and 14 republican candidates contacted by the nation editors have not replied.
and the guardian reports a newly surfaced in all shows oil giant exxon mobil do about climate change seven years before it became a public issue, but still spent millions of dollars to fund climate change denial for nearly 30 years. the e-mail from lenny bernstein, exxon's former in-house climate expert, says the company first got interested in climate change in 1981. according to him he spent more than $39 on think tanks and researchers promoting climate change and i'll. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. aid groups are warning yemen is on the brink of famine as the saudi-led attack intensifies. more than 3000 people, including 1500 civilians, have died in yemen since the u.s.-backed saudi offensive against the houthi rebel group began on march 26. a saudi naval blockade has cut
off food and fuel supply lines for much of the country. according to the united nations, 80% of yemen's 25 million people are now in need of some form of humanitarian aid. more than one million yemenis have fled their homes. stephane dujarric, a spokesperson for u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon, addressed the crisis on wednesday. clicks the office for human rights say they're deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in yemen. were civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. the office now says a total number of civilians reportedly killed and injured since 27th of march is 1528 and over 3000 injured. nermeen: monday was reportedly the deadliest day since the fighting began with over 176 people killed, including 30 people at a market in the northern province of amran, and 60 people at a livestock market in the southern town of
al-foyoush. on tuesday, a saudi airstrike reportedly killed dozens of yemeni soldiers stationed at a military base. one military source told the bbc the base was hit by accident, another source said the strike was called in to stop the soldiers defecting to the houthi s. amy: to talk more about yemen we are joined by two guests. farea al-muslimi is a yemeni youth activist and writer. he is currently a visiting scholar at the carnegie middle east center in beirut. in 2013, al-muslimi testified before the senate on the secret u.s. drone program in yemen. here in new york is matthieu aikins, award winning foreign correspondent. he's a fellow at the nation institute. he was in yemen last month reporting for rolling stone magazine. farea al-muslimi, let's go to you first in the middle east. talk about what is happening in your country.
are you able to hear me? we're speaking to farea al-muslimi in beirut, lebanon right now, and we may have a bit of a problem with the audio connection. can you hear me? can you talk about the situation in yemen? well, looks like he is that hearing -- >> there's a problem with the sound. amy: go ahead, we can hear you now. ok, we will go to matt aikins. you have just recently returned from yemen. talk about what you found. >> it is very difficult to get into the country because there's a full on blockade by air, land and see. we had to smuggle ourselves in by boat in the neighboring country of djibouti. once we got out there, we saw country completely paralyzed
lack of fuel, food, medicine, no power in most of the cities we visited. there's a constant toll of airstrikes and very heavy fighting in numerous areas of the country. so really, it is mounting humanitarian catastrophe, as you mentioned, an extremely dangerous situation that i think threatens to get worse as time goes on. nermeen: you talk about the saudi blockade. it is because of this blockade there is a humanitarian catastrophe in part because fuel and food supplies can't get in. what was the justification for the blockade and where you traveled in yemen, what did you see its effects in the refugee camps, etc., that you went to? >> the justification the saudi coalition gives is it is preventing deliveries of weapons to the houthis from iran. there really hasn't been any smoking evidence of deliveries in the past, but that is the reason they're giving. yemen was already in a human to
turn catastrophe even before the war -- humanitarian catastrophe before the war, one of the most impoverished nations in the region am a suffered from high levels of now nutrition, food insecurity, access to water, etc. it had 90% of its food imported. this kind of blockade has a devastating impact on the country that was already very fragile. many people believe this amounts to collective punishment of the entire yemeni people, that is aimed at one particular group. amy: let's go to a clip from one of the rolling stone videos filmed in sana'a last month. matt aikins was in the old city the day after the saudi coalition carried out airstrikes in the area. this is yahya al habbari, a representative of the old city in the senate, describing the scene. >> my heart is broken. [indiscernible]
>> i've heard people here say they find america responsible for this. amy: talk further, maps, that what you found. >> there was an incident where the bomb was discovered to be a 2000 pound bomb by him is international, hit a section of the old city and collapsed four houses, killed a number of civilians. we with her that morning. the bomb had come in early in the morning and we came after
sunrise and viewed some of the rescue attempts, pulling bodies out of the rubble while we were there. this is happening every day. because it happened that a unesco world heritage site, this rental news broadcast, one of the few instances conflict in yemen has been of interest to the rest of the world. in one of my yemeni friends bitterly joked, the west is more interested in old houses then yemeni lives. amy: we seem to have remade a connection with farea al-muslimi in beirut. can you talk about the whole overall situation in yemen? >> yes, amy, it is great to be back with you. overall, since the beginning of this recent war on yemen led by the saudi coalition that started last march, since then the humanitarian situation in yemen has badly gotten worse, more than it was in the past. obviously, yemen was going through a lot of problems with
more than 14 money people already in need for humanitarian aid, and when this war broke out, what it did is it escalated the already bad humanitarian situation. it may be scope for political solution go much less than they were. and most important, it paralyzed the movement in and out of the country, at least compared to the past. thousands of people have been killed, clearly, since this has started. thousands have been injured. hundreds of thousands have been forced to leave their houses. the country -- especially due to the blockage, going through one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world. the blockage of food and aid in movement of ships was probably or has been the worst part of this overall war. since it literally banned those
who can even afford lives from the ability of finding food in the market compared to the past. obviously, more importantly you'll roll picture, clearly, this war is becoming less and less about yemen and more of a proxy while yemen is caught in the middle of 25 million people currently going under most -- nermeen: farea al-muslimi, you have said yemen is "the mexico of the arabian gulf. could you explain why what you mean by that and the response to the crisis in yemen? >> obviously it is an outcome of an imposed international solution that has in human been enforced the last three years before everything collapsed and it was a transition that faked everything more than actually
led to real transition. everyone was playing there parts, except the gun dealers since the story in international is it is a success. clearly, that is been a problem over the last three years. it was an attempt for the international community to act and other countries, especially after it's still your in syria and libya. yemen was a successful model. it left behind for this collapse into internal conflicts and it was neglected for many international sites and recently became, how do you say, a field for a proxy war and at the same time, a place were no one internationally is being held accountable about what they're doing there. apparently, the current war has
a lot of work crimes have been permitted in it, but no one has been held accountable or even called. and obviously, [indiscernible] it is not an israeli ordering to come and that is less important to the west. -- israel bordering country, and that is less important to the west. a model of a transition that was very far from reality at its best. amy: sharif kudos, our correspondent usually based in cairo, went to sanna in yemen recently and described for us the extent to which saudi arabia controls conditions in yemen including access to the country and its airspace.
>> to give you a sense of how much control the saudis have over the airspace, yemenis were flying into yemen from the outside. the planes -- before the was a direct flight from cairo to sanna, and now stops in saudi arabia. the plane stops there come all of the backs or take off and check. the passports are checked. when i was there, one yemeni with me was humiliated that this was happening, that he had to go through saudi arabia to get to his country. there really are -- they really are controlling access to the country but for yemenis, for the media, and more portly, for all the humanitarian aid and the fuel. amy: can you talk about saudi arabia's interest, what they're doing? you talked about alleged were crumbs, who you think is responsible. >> outside has permitted -- the blockage of eight was committed sometimes by the yemeni
government and sometimes by the saudis and sometimes by the houthis themselves. overall, saudi arabia has always enjoyed an unquestionable prominence over yemen's politics. in the last three years, it was busy with qatar and yemen and other parts of the region and then it was busy with egypt and syria for watching -- in recent years, there's been overreacting to what is happening in yemen or two the houthis rise to power in yemen. apparently overall, i think the sense of credibility to the saudi's or houthis or have dissipated in improving or increasing the legacy of violence around the country which has been going through a
lot of increased since -- [indiscernible] the regime has been forgiven what they have done. without support of, let's say trading of justice for the sake of security, have obviously led many internal and external actors to be more violent in yemen and to be less accountable in war situations or even in non-war situations. nermeen: matt aikins, you talked about the difficulty you had in getting into yemen and sharif described a similar situation. do you think that is what accounts for the relatively little press coverage there has been of the crisis in yemen here and possibly elsewhere? >> no doubt about that. the fact of the matter is, the saudis were blocking journalists
from entering the country. we were told we would not be allowed in on official humanitarian flights were shipments. actually, the world food program flight carrying a number of journalists from djibouti was blocked by the saudis before we left. there deliberately restricting press coverage of the conflict. nermeen: what about you and officials? you found she manager and eight workers were not there in his large numbers as you would expect given the scale of the catastrophe. >> i think the u.n. was unprepared for this crisis and as a result, they evacuated almost all of their international staff. we were traveling in areas outside the capital salon in the amran province, for example, and found refugees living in the open without shelter or water or food. feel the international agency that was really on the ground working with them was doctors without borders, and they were incredulous.
no response from the international community and committed he. nermeen: one of the dust the video clip we played earlier of the representative from the old city concluded by saying he blamed the united states 100% for what is going on. and you pointed out in one of your pieces that you came across munitions, remnants of missions made in the u.s. that were being used by saudi arabia in their air war in yemen. could you talk about what you learned from people in yemen about how they see the responsibility for what is going on there? >> we found cluster bombs, for example, that are banned under the global treaty that were used by the saudis in yemen that originally came from the u.s. there is no doubt the yemenis understand the weapons and the jets that are being used against them were sold to the saudis by the u.s. and the u.s. is
supporting this war in-flight refueling, intelligence and targeting. absolutely, the yemenis see the u.s. as being responsible. often when we visit the sites were women and children have been killed, a lot of the ire people have on the ground was directed toward the united states. amy: i want to go back to farea al-muslimi and go back to 2013 when you testified in washington on capitol hill about the u.s. drone strikes in yemen. you spoke a week after your home village in yemen was hit by a u.s. drone strike. >> my stories about my wonderful experience. the french of's and values and described to the villagers helped them understand the america i know and that i love. now, however, when they think of america, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads ready to fire missiles at any
time. what a violent militants had previously failed to achieve one joint strike accomplished in an instant. there is intense anger against america. this is not an isolated instance. the drone strikes are the face of america to many yemenis. amy: that is farea al-muslimi and 2013 speaking on capitol hill in a senate hearing in yemen. farea, that was two years ago. can you talk about how the u.s. is seen on the ground there now and how -- what is happening in yemen compares to two years ago? >> well compared to two years ago, if you are a yemeni, you would absolutely think the numbers of countries were bombing yemen at that time were still limited to one and if there was one, there's a
parliament you can complain to. so at least it was comparative to what is happening in yemen today to mystically and externally -- domestically and externally. at the same time, i want to elaborate more on the idea of how saudis or the view that is awarded to the sponsorship of the united states of america. it is not only, as mentioned in your talks earlier, there is a general feeling in yemen but even in saudi arabia, there's a lot of feeling or relaxation of the over use of force or overall -- they feel they have the green light from the united states of america and the united kingdom and other western countries. last month, i was in saudi and i spoke to saudi officials about usage of cluster bombs. guess what was the usual response? these are weapons sold to us by
the united states of america and we can use them because they are sold to us legally in america. that overall feeling, even by the saudis that they are backed overall, how this war could go worse than it could have just been. more importantly, it has elaborated or increased on accountability overall of this war in yemen. especially by the saudi arabia. if at the moment, and that is why at the moment if there's any power that can push the saudis to behave in yemen or to accept a cease-fire, it is definitely the united states of america. and that realization overall would influence the u.s. on saudi was probably the only country right now can have an influence on saudi makes a lot of feeling whether in saudi or in yemen in the united states is a larger sponsor of this war. nermeen: farea al-muslimi, you
suggested the likelihood of hadi returning to yemen is virtually nil. in other words he will not big way back to yemen. so what you see a saudi arabia's objective? how can this war be resolved? many people have suggested that at the moment, given the continuation of the war, the only people who are benefiting are islamist extremists -- al qaeda or the so proclaimed sonic state islamic state. >> [indiscernible] to move forward, there's a deeper location i think in yemen and outside yemen within the houthis and even from the houthi opponents, one of the biggest obstacles in yemen is the current president who have in a big way or another pave the road
for the houthis from the mountains to power because a lot of his miss actions, insist on imposing feel subsidies and imposement of unconstitutional draft and unpopular division of region, all of this makes his supporters before his opponents realize the way forward in yemen has to go through removal of -- obviously, the continuation of the war right now as it is happening with no state actor in yemen or government benefits the group like isis and al qaeda. but this trend overall has been growing the last year. and [indiscernible] the whole region and not just yemen have been witnessing a wave of kicking guns on the expense of protesters are
protest failures. i think this is mainly how the arab spring was not down. i'm not sure how the world can think it can sleep at night after the arab spring which was, in a way or another, the biggest strike at ever happened to groups in the region. especially the regimes that were very popular and it was a strong social movement in yemen, but this region's in another way or another did not move because they did not change and obviously, they were unpopular and in staying in power, but the new elite are obviously the new -- 2011 was not an power and that i was the benefit the group like isis and al qaeda, especially with a lot of internal sectarian tension increasing by regional fueling of guns and cash. amico farea al-muslimi, thank you for being with us, yemeni
youth activist and writer. currently a visiting scholar at the carnegie middle east center in beirut. and thank you matt aikins for coming into the studio award , winning foreign correspondent. a fellow at the nation institute. he was in yemen last month reporting for rolling stone magazine. when we come back, we go to capitol hill or barbara lee joins us to talk about a new bill she has put forward around abortion. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: in a landmark push to turn back the record tide of anti-choice restrictions, pro-choice low markers vintages to bill -- lawmakers have introduced a bill. each woman act would dismantle
the nearly 40-year-old hyde amendment which bans federal funding for abortion, except in cases of life endangerment rape, or in says. the high to cuts off funding for routine medical features sought by one of three women to members of the military and their families a federal employees women and federal prisons, peace corps volunteers, indian health service plans and medicaid recipients. researchers shown one in four women on medicaid who want to end their identities instead give birth when the funding is unavailable. one of minority of states to provide medicaid coverage for abortion, a number of states have gone beyond the hyde amendment banning abortion coverage on any insurance plan or on plants sold through health care exchanges. amy: dubbed the third role of abortion politics by msnbc taxpayer funding for abortion is an issue even pro-choice democrats have had hesitated to touch. in 2010, president obama ensure
the ban on federal funds for abortion would stand under his signature health care law. on wednesday, democratic congress number barbara lee of oakland and her colleagues introduced the each woman act repealed the ban and prevent political interference and abortion coverage by private insurers. congressman released spoke wednesday along with other sponsors of the bill including commerce member judy chu of california and compass member raul grijalva of arizona. >> today as then as a member of congress, one of the first in our history having 100 women sitting in congress. this is the time for leadership. no business interfering with a woman's private reproductive health decisions. the each woman act in these bands whether there are posed at the state, federal level. >> nearly one in seven women of reproductive age is insured through medicaid. half are people of color. three in 10 young women are
eligible for medicaid. we know that this attack on poor women is an attack on all women. by denying federal insurance coverage abortion, hyde puts this access out of reach for so many. we cannot sit back and watch the constitutional right of women deteriorate any further. we have been playing defense force are -- far too long and it is time to change that strategy. >> this act that has been proposed is about reaffirming a woman's right. period. and it is about bringing up a level standard the civil rights and the equity that is every woman deserves. any code that was lee chu, and lawrence. for more we go to the cannon rotunda in washington. d.c., where we are joined by congressmember barbara lee democrat of california and former chair of the congressional black caucus. cosponsor the equal access to of the equal access to abortion
coverage in health insurance act - the each woman act. welcome back to democracy now! layout with this legislation would do. >> first of all, let me just say, women around the country and men have said enough is enough. and what this legislation basically would do is remove the barriers and the bans on funding for rupert active health care, all reproductive health care options, which women with money have which includes abortion. finally, i numb so pleased we had 70 cosponsors who introduced -- i am so pleased with 70 cosponsors to introduce this with myself, saying enough is enough. we want equity. american people, regardless of their personal views on abortion, believe all women regardless of their income should be allowed the full range of reproductive options. what this will does is equalize this whole health care issue and really puts low income women and women of color, you heard half
the women on medicaid are women of color, you know, it provides some equity in our whole reproductive health care decisions. and also what it does, it takes elected officials out of those personal decisions that women must make, which are very grilling, oftentimes, and very difficult. nermeen: i want to read from a comment from representative henry hyde, author of the hyde amendment. when it was first introduced in 1976 he said -- "i certainly would like to prevent, if i could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the... medicaid bill." representative lee, could you talk about who would be principally impacted by this amendment? >> this was a direct attack on low income women. and this was in the 1970's. it was not a member of congress, but i was working for a great number of congress who did not support the hyde amendment.
i was a staffer. i remember how horrible those days were in the debates and really feeling that this amendment really was attacking low-income women. and that is what it does. it prevents low-income women from having all of the reproductive health choices that women who are not low income have. it basically attacks low-income women, poor women, and women of color who are on medicaid. that has got to stop. emiko what happens to women in the military? >> same thing. the dea women in the military are denied the full range of reproductive options stop this ill would stop that. it would lift that barrier. amy: what are the prospects of this moving forward and a republican house? >> of course we have to educate the public, which i believe are really there but we have to let members of congress know -- i think over 80% of the public really believes regardless of their personal views that there should be some equity and low income women should be treated fairly.
we have a massive educational campaign to conduct. and i tell you one thing, women all around this country, and i am so proud of all of the young women, the organization's who have been working for years and years of his legislation. now we have 72 cosponsors. of course we have a two-party controlled commit very conservative congress. so we don't have our heads in the sand. we're not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and believe this could pass this year, but this is a long-term fight. this was in the 1970's when former or the late henry hyde passed it. we will begin now. we will be very assertive. we will educate members of congress. sooner or later, we will get this done. this is a marathon. but it must start somewhere. so we have taken the very first step. in the past, we have just been on the defense constantly just defending a woman's right to choose, woman's right to privacy, the roe versus wade.
it is about time we take the offense. there has to be some justice and fairness as a relates to all women. this is a major first step. we have no idea when it could pass, but we have to build up political support so interviews like this and educating the public will really help us build up. amy: do you think it had something to do with what was said when you introduced this yesterday, standing with a number of women and some male congress members, the idea that you had 100 women in congress now? >> well, i believe it does. when we have that type of howard -- of course, we need more women in congress, but when you have 100 women and you have women who are at the table writing the rules, when you have women who really understand this from a deeply personal level, you know, i think things change. when you have women who really understand regardless of their views, once again, on abortion that elected officials and members of congress should not
be making those decisions for women. these are very personal, difficult decisions. let women decide where they want how they want to live their lives and whether rupert active choices are. yes, i think getting to 100 women in congress really is a sea change will step now we have 72 cosponsors on this ill, which is very positive and very good for the movement that is developing and i just have to give credit once again to all of our organizations in our young women around the country who have been working so hard on this for some many years. amy: commerce member lee speaking of issues that people have worked hard on, you have worked extremely hard on changing the us relationship with cuba. the embassies are about to open, u.s. embassy in havana, cuban embassy in washington, d.c. it has been talked about that you were interested in being the u.s. ambassador to cuba the first one, right now in this new era. would you accept that part
position of president obama nominated you? >> let me say what happened. there was an article that they wrote in the san francisco chronicle, some gossip, i guess a rumor or -- i don't know where they got this from. they said i had a gentlewoman's agreement with the president that i would be the first ambassador to cuba. that is just not the case. that is not true. i represent great constituents in the 13th congressional district. there is a lot of work to do in congress. i will continue to work to represent my constituents and congress and try to help lift this embargo. that will take legislative action as well as lifting the travel ban. the president has come a long way and done everything he can do. i have been to cuba over 20 times, beginning in the 1970's. i have worked very hard to get up to this point. but we have been doing this for many, many years. and so now this is a c chains --
seachange, but these are rumors. you know how they get started. i intend to stay in congress and work to represent my constituents. i have to say it is the most progressive and enlightened and diverse constituency in the country. amy: he may not have an agreement, but would you like to be the ambassador? >> being an ambassador to cuba is, i think i'm a great position if you are about ready to retire from congress. i am not about ready to retire from congress. i want to continue to lift its embargo and ensure the travel ban is lifted. i want to continue representing the greatest district in the country. amy: can you explain the legislation you think needs to happen with the presidents diplomatic initiatives in cuba as you said, he can only go so far. what has to happen in congress and what you pushing for now for normalizing relations with cuba. >> there are two bills. now you have to have a license general license, really, is
specific in terms of who can travel to cuba but under this the administration, they really have made it a little broader a much more flexible in terms of traveling. but you cannot go to cuba as a tourist. so we have legislation that would allow just normal travel relations like we can travel to china and vietnam. americans have the right to travel to cuba. we have to have a law that says that, which is really unfortunate but there is legislation we are trying to get past it would do just that. i am cosponsoring the legislation with a republican member of congress, congressman sanford, to try to get bipartisan consensus to get this legislation passed. secondly, just in terms of normal trade relations, to be able to do business. currently under the recent executive order and prior executive order there is some industries that can do business in cuba, for instance, we can sell medicine and agricultural products to cuba. but normal trade relations just don't exist.
there is an embargo. so we have to pass legislation that would lift the sanctions and lift the embargo against cuba so we can engage in normal financial and trade transactions. let me just say, amy, once that is done, there have been a net businesses, the chamber of commerce is a many economic organizations that have showed we would create economic growth in this country as well as create jobs in america, is in fact we had normal trade relations with cuba. so there is a bill that would actually do just that that commerce maturely wrangle is leading on and i'm a cosponsor of that. i hope people listening to this interview would call their members of congress and tell their members to sign on as cosponsors and let's get these bills passed so we can have just normal trade and diplomatic relations between the united states and q a to the benefit of the cuban people and the american people. amy: it looks like south carolina is going to bring down the confederate battle flag on
the grounds of the state capital. extremely emotional debate was held in the last few days in both houses. but it is overwhelmingly been voted. is there federal legislation that would take down any kind of confederate symbols and any federal public lands? >> well, members of the congressional black caucus are looking at a variety of bills. congressman bennie thompson has legislation pending and other efforts are taking place. but i tell you, we're looking at all aspects of symbols of hatred and racism and bigotry. these should not be in america. i am very pleased and happy that charleston and south carolina legislature have finally gotten to this point. it is such a horrific tragedy that we're still grieving from an morning from and this is an example of how horrible tragedy
lead to change. but it should happen without having so many horrific acts of violence take place, so the symbols such as the flag that promotes this kind of hatred, not only on federal lands or wherever, they should not exist in america. we are looking at all aspects. emiko commerce member leigh thank you for being with us democrat of california from oakland, former chair of the congressional black caucus is co-author of the equal access to abortion coverage in health insurance act, the each woman act, which would guarantee abortion coverage for all medicaid recipients and women who receive health insurance through the federal government. when we come back, did bp get off cheaply in the deal that has been reached after the blowout in the gulf of mexico? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "it ain't my fault." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: we end today's show looking the historic settlement bp has reached that will resolve all government claims resulting from the 2010 deepwater horizon explosion, the worst offshore
oil spill in u.s. history. the agreement totals $18.7 billion and covers damages sought by the federal government, the states of alabama, florida, louisiana, mississippi and texas, as well as more than 400 civic entities along the gulf coast. the payment includes a $5.5 billion civil penalty under the clean water act and $7.1 billion fine for environmental damage to the gulf. amy: if confirmed by a federal judge after a public comment period, it will be the largest environmental settlement in u.s. history and the largest ever by a single entity. but some groups have questioned if bp is paying enough. for more, we go to reporter antonia juhasz in san francisco. her rolling stone story is headlined, "bp 'got off cheaply' with $18.7 billion settlement." her report in the may issue of harpers magazine is, "thirty million gallons under the sea: following the trail of bp's oil in the gulf of mexico." she is also author of, "black tide: the devastating impact of the gulf oil spill."
you have been reporting on this for years. did bp get off cheaply? what were the costs and what are they ultimately liable for? >> good morning. unfortunately, bp did. as you said in the introduction, this is certainly a historic settlement. it is a very large figure, $18.7 billion will stop that bp also caused the largest oil spill in world history, the largest offshore oil drilling and roll history. with that, it was found to be a crime. bp had to settle 12 criminal charges and bp was found grossly negligent in causing the disaster. with those crimes in a grossly negligent behavior comes a historic fine if you apply our laws. and our laws are supposed to account for the enormous amount of oil spilled into the gulf of mexico, the clean water act, the oil pollution act says bp is
required to put everything back the way it was basically. economically and ecologically. pay for the damage that was done and pay for restoration. that is the oil pollution act. in addition, we want to make sure that other companies will not engage in the same sort of criminal and grossly negligent behavior. and so want each of those legal counts, i think the settlement failed. it fails to account for the clean water act and fails to account for full restoration and i think it certainly failed as a very very important tool for dissuading this type of behavior in the future, which is very problematic given the move of the oil industry and even more dangerous and risky oil drilling behavior. aaron: could you explain how it breaks down? how much goes to damage and how much to restoration?
what would have been better settlement in your view? the government was seeking $18 million just in clean water act fines alone. that is a straight application of the law. the federal government had argued the most independent scientists agree that 4.1 million barrels of oil or released into the gulf of mexico. and the judge had found september the company was grossly negligent which would've giggled $18 million fine. the judge then ruled that it felt or he felt only 3.1 million barrels of oil were spilled which would have reduced the clean water act fine to about $14 billion. but this settlement only provides $5.5 billion in clean water act fines, so that is more like about $1800 for oil barrel spilled that bp got off on that provision. then in addition to the clean water act, this also covers all natural resource, costs and
restoration. in the national while the federation did in analysis if you years back, put that number should have been about $31 billion alone, but in the settlement bp gets $7.1 billion for natural resource restoration plus $1 billion it had already paid, so that is $8 billion. and then there is in addition, the economic cost suffered by states and as you said, some 400 localities. $4.9 billion for the states, $1 billion for the localities. that is how we get at $18.7 billion. there is -- this is critical. there is a lot of science that is still going on. i was on the show not too long ago talking about my submarine trip to the bottom of the gulf of mexico at the site of the bp oil spill, and the scientists i companied estimating 30 million gallons of oil is still in the
gulf of mexico. amy:, i wanted to respond to the new york times editorial board responded to the settlement with bp deal will lead to a cleaner gulf headline. they wrote -- "even before this settlement bp's costs have not been trivial. when all is said and done, the company estimates it will have paid nearly $54 billion, shedding major assets to pay the tab. if that isn't a deterrent to careless behavior by the oil companies, it's hard to know what is." can you respond? >> it is a largest oil spill and world history. so bp has been estimating all along the cost associated with this disaster. they had already put or estimated $43 billion, so put aside that cost. this puts it to about $53 billion. but that is even less than analysts were predicting the cost would be for the spill. so back in 2011, moody's estimated $60 billion. amy: we have to leave it there.
i want to thank you bree much for joining us, antonia juhasz we will link to your pieces. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. 1